After more than a decade as principal of Ōtūmoetai Primary School, Geoff Opie signed off for the last time yesterday.

"I've been in the field for 46 years and it's time to take a break," he said.

With 16 years as the principal under his belt, the time has come for the 67-year-old to pass the baton to deputy principal Zara McIndoe.

Opie held his final school assembly on Friday and the students had prepared a not-so-secret performance for the milestone event.


"They'd been practising in secret, but little kids can't keep secrets," he said, laughing.

While there had been challenges, every day at the job was a gift and he found the work "very fulfilling".

"It's been very rewarding, and those rewards are not material."

It was the small things, like seeing a student smiling or make progress, that made the job special.

"It's those intrinsic rewards that make the whole journey so worthwhile," Opie said.

Opie said he approached each new day as a fresh opportunity to serve the school. His mantra was that as long as positive change was made to the lives of the children, the school and staff were doing the right thing.

"It's been both a joy and a privilege to have the position here, to work with the community."

Opie finishes his duties in late January and has no major plans for the immediate future - apart from a well-earned break.

He has approached University of Waikato and BTI with an offer to work with teachers-in-training on practical work next year so he can stay involved in the industry and keep his mind active.

With deputy principal Zara McIndoe taking the top role and the majority of senior staff staying, the leadership transition had been smooth, he said.

"The school's values will stay the same but there will be a new energy behind them," he said.

The lifestyle and schedule of the role meant it was well suited to bringing up children as they often had the same school holidays off.

While the holidays were busy with preparing for the next term, it did offer some time to spend with his children.

Geoff Opie
• 16 years as Ōtūmoetai Primary School principal
• 46-year career as a teacher and principal